By Analou De Vera
Health advocates are hopeful that the proposal to raise the excise taxes on tobacco products will be approved in the Senate.
The passage of the measure will serve as a “perfect way to begin” the observance of the National No Smoking Month this June, according to Dr. Antonio Dans of the National Academy of Science and Technology.
“It is fitting that we are potentially on the verge of passing an increase in tobacco taxes at the start of National No Smoking Month. Multiple studies have shown that a majority of the top ten causes of death in the country may be linked to cigarette use,” said Dans.
“It is therefore important that we come up with mechanisms to curb the use of cigarettes, and implementing high tobacco tax rates is one of the most effective ways to achieve this,” he added.
To note, the Senate is set to adjourn sine die on June 7.
“Each day that the passage of the tobacco tax increase is delayed, 288 Filipinos die of tobacco-related diseases. This National No Smoking Month, we urge our senators put the health of the Filipino people first by voting in support of a higher tobacco tax this Monday,” said Dans.
Senate Bill 2233 proposes to raise the tax on cigarettes to P45 per pack by 2020; P50 by 2021; P55 by 2022, and P60 by 2023. From 2023 onwards, the tax will be increased by 5 percent annually.
Action for Economic Reforms researcher Arjay Mercado said that the passage of the bill will help decrease the number of smokers in the country.
“Our estimates show that if we do not pass any increase in cigarette taxes, the total number of smokers in the country will increase by at least 250,000 every year. It is imperative that we pass this measure to prevent this from happening, as the tax increase will discourage our fellow Filipinos from starting to smoke and damaging their health,” said Mercado.